BSkyB outlines 3D plans

BSkyB is to further invest in 3D production and could even be offering a 3D service within the next twelve months according to a senior Sky staffer.

“We have the luxury to be able to test and trial 3D,” said Chris Johns, Sky’s chief engineer/broadcast strategy. He told a London conference on March 6 that with 61 Hollywood movies likely to be released in 3D over the next 18 months, plus Sky’s end-to-end control over its own programming making, there was now the “capability for homes to see 3D by year-end”.

However, first priority in Sky’s ‘vision of the future’ is to build its own archive of material, and Johns said services like its Arts Channel, as well as sports and general entertainment would receive 3D investment. He told delegates at the UK’s Digital Television Group (DTG) annual conference that Sky would be experimenting with different 3D systems, but favoured a simple and cost-effective technology route as being the most likely. While not ruling out so-called ‘active’ glasses, Johns suggested that at the moment these systems were too expensive. “And screens must be widely available,” he stressed. “Our aim is to refine 3D techniques and TV production and build a content library over the coming year.”

Johns said the aim was not to concentrate on delivering 3D to the big screen, or similar closed environments, but to the home for everyday usage. “We cannot move to a different platform and ask consumers to buy new set-top boxes,” he said. “We want to use the current set-top box without significant modifications to be ‘3D Ready’ as well as ‘HD Ready’.”

“Sky is in a unique position,” he said, “and we want to deliver the First Generation of 3D and I envision it will be glasses-based in some form, and to get the impetus going for that first generation and to be ready for other generations which will happen in 5, 6 or 7 years time.”

The DTG announced it was creating a special 3D working group and consultancy division for the technology.